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US Opens Public Land for Utility Scale Solar Projects

By Joao Peixe | Sun, 29 July 2012 00:00 | 1

The Whitehouse has released plans to increase access to public land for solar installations with the hope of encouraging more capacity. 285,000 acres in parts of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah will be made more accessible through easier permit application processes.

Before Obama’s presidency started no solar projects were allowed on public lands in an attempt to preserve their natural state. However, since 2009 the Department of the Interior has approved 17 large scale solar projects on such ground, expected to generate 5,900 MW of power when completed, enough to supply 2 million homes.

It is expected that the new land will enable a further 23,000 MW of solar capacity to be installed, and provide sufficient electricity for nearly 7 million homes.

Steven Chu, the US Energy Secretary, said that “developing America’s solar energy resources is an important part of President Obama’s commitment to expanding American-made energy, increasing energy security, and creating jobs. This new roadmap builds on that commitment by identifying public lands that are best suited for solar energy projects, improving the permitting process, and creating incentives to deliver more renewable energy to American homes and businesses.”

Environmentalist fears of damage to the precious land have been relatively pacified due to the fact that the plan only includes about 40% of the area considered in the original discussions.

By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com

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  • L. Rutherford on July 30 2012 said:
    Having worked in the oil/gas industry for twenty years, I can honestly say that oil/gas are not the best future for our country. Yes, they will be part of the mix, but the strangle hold the industry has had on our nation has to stop. Solar projects that overrun our public lands are not the answer either. Although some are appropriate, there are many other opportunities for solar that are more "direct" than the long-distance, transmission requiring projects that the corporate interests see as necessary.

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